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Why It’s Important to Make Mistakes: Advice for Students

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There are no perfect people. We all make mistakes, but each of us handles them differently. Unfortunately, some students and newbies at work perceive their mistakes as the end of the world. This approach wears down the nervous system and makes you hate yourself, but it’s wrong. Mistakes are a normal part of life from which useful lessons can be learned. 

Think of a small child who is just learning to walk. How many times does he make mistakes, how many times does he fall on his butt, how many times does he get his balance wrong, how many times could you say to them: ‘How did you get up, how do you move your legs, how did you fall, so silly!’ You don’t say that to a small child, do you? You know for a fact that the more attempts a child makes, that is, the more mistakes a child makes, the faster they will learn.

It’s the same in absolutely any area. If you don’t know how to do something, you are bound to make mistakes. And the faster you make all the mistakes you are supposed to make, the faster you will learn. That’s the only way learning works. It’s never the case that a person who really can’t do something will do it perfectly the first time. He’s bound to make mistakes as he learns. The more mistakes and as quickly as you can make while learning something new, the faster you’ll learn to do it right.

Here’s how important it is for a person to make mistakes and overcome the difficulties that arise.

Why are we afraid to make a mistake

The reason for fear lies in the human psyche and in how we perceive the world around us. Usually, we are not afraid of the mistake itself, but of the consequences, it may cause:

  • Public condemnation. We don’t want people to think badly of us. Some people can’t stand the thought of others seeing their imperfect sides. People are social creatures who care about outside approval.
  • Inner condemnation. No one blames himself more than we do. Perhaps your fear is based on the fact that you cannot accept your non-ideal self. Many people find it hard to accept that they are sometimes wrong.
  • Getting out of your comfort zone. Making a mistake causes people to act and look for a way out of their situation, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Some are aware of this and prefer to do things right the first time, thereby increasing their fear of making mistakes.

Could any of these three reasons be at the root of your fear? Think about what you’re really afraid of.

Why it’s OK to make mistakes

Success is impossible without failure. Unfavourable conditions make us better and stronger. Failures are part of those conditions; it’s important to learn to accept the discomfort associated with them. Making mistakes is neither critical nor shameful. The main thing is to find the strength to try again.

You need to realize that it is quite normal to make mistakes. If you are a student or a novice at work, your mistakes are a process of learning new things. Don’t be a perfectionist. Sometimes I even pay someone to do my programming homework just because I cannot handle it. And it’s OK, I cannot be perfect in everything, right?

You don’t need to worry so much about your mistakes. Anxiety can lead you to frustration, stress, and inaction.

What mistakes teach us

All people grow by making mistakes and learning from them, so you are no exception. To avoid getting frustrated and drowning in self-pity after another failure, go over in your head a list of what mistakes teach us.

  • Analyse. Mistakes make us smarter and teach us to analyse our actions. After a failure, no one wants to do something without understanding. Analysing helps to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
  • Train critical thinking. Admitting a mistake requires maturity and adequate self-esteem. No one is perfect, but one should strive for the ideal. Critical thinking helps to see a situation from a different angle and find a better solution the next time.
  • Gain instructive experiences. Life is cyclical, so you will face similar situations more than once. That’s why it’s important to see mistakes as a way to gain new experiences. This will not only prevent future mistakes but also pump up your intelligence.
  • Take responsibility. Children differ from adults in that they hide from their mistakes and blame everyone around them. If you consider yourself an adult, then you can face the truth and take responsibility for the mistake.
  • Find new sources of inspiration. Every mistake you make allows you to find an unconventional way to solve it. This approach develops the creative thinking and keeps you from getting discouraged.
  • Understand others. Our mistakes help us understand those around us who are also not perfect. It is human nature that we all do something wrong. Our own mistakes make us feel the emotions of those around us and teach us to be more forgiving.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.

Takeaway

If you do the same tasks day in and day out, a mistake will shake you up and get you out of your comfort zone. Each failure is an opportunity to step back from the usual course of events and look at the world in a new way.

To make mistakes is to develop intellectually and socially. Allow yourself to stumble once in a while and gain invaluable experience. Is being perfect so cool? Probably not. It’s like shutting yourself off from life.  Mistakes allow us to learn, grow, make decisions, and learn about ourselves. If everyone were perfect and made no mistakes, would we have what we have now: technological progress, the best medicine, the highest education in the world? Of course not. To invent something, you have to make many mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are expensive, but they lead us to a better place. They allow us to have something more than our vanity. And that is a beautiful thing.


Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.

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